Introduction: Easy Pie Crust

Picture of Easy Pie Crust

This fool-proof, easy pie crust recipe ensures a perfect, flaky crust every time.

The trick is in the vodka! Being only 80-proof, most of the vodka evaporates in the baking process, meaning the crust dough gets the liquid it need to be formed, but most of it will not stay, leaving you with a perfect, flaky crust. And, vodka is, by definition, colorless and odorless, so once it's baked, you'll forget it was ever in there.

If you prefer not to use vodka, swap it for cold water.

Originally titled Foolproof Pie Dough, Cooks Illustrated, November 2007

Step 1: Ingredients

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To make two 9-inch crusts

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour - make sure you measure it right!
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into small bits
  • 1/4 cup cold vodka
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Food processor, dough cutter, or fork & knife

Step 2: Mash It Up

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Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses.

Add butter and shortening and process until dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (there should be no uncoated flour).

Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade.

Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses.

Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Step 3: Add Cold Liquids

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Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture.

With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together.

Step 4: Wrap It Up

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Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk.

Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Step 5: Good to Go

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Once your dough is thoroughly chilled - as firm as a cold stick of butter - it's ready to roll out.

Roll the dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap to prevent dough from sticking to the counter and your roller. It also prevents the need to add more flour, which can make your dough tough. (hm, "dough" and "tough" - looks like they should rhyme. . . ) Make sure you pull any folds out of the plastic every few rolls to ensure that the dough remains smooth.

To fit this in a standard 9" pie dish, roll it out to a 12" circle. If your dough has gotten soft or warmer in the time you have been rolling it out, slide it into the freezer for 10 minutes to get it firm again.

Carefully transfer your dough to the pie plate by folding the dough gently into quarters and unfolding in the pan, or by wrapping it around your rolling pin and gently unrolling it into the pan.. Working around the circumference of the pie plate, ease dough the dough into the corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand.

If you're making a single crust pie, crimp the edges decoratively with your fingers or the flat side of a fork at even intervals and add the filling according to your recipe's instructions.

If you're making a double-crust or latticed pie, leave dough that overhangs the lip of plate in place, and follow recipe directions.

Hooray! You made perfect pie crust! Wait for the oohs and ahhs to roll in.

Step 6: Pre Baking

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Some recipes call for a pre-baked pie crust.   For optimal results, I recommend the following:

Poke a bunch of holes in the crust with a fork.  This prevents air pockets from distorting the shape.

Line the crust with foil and fill with pie weights.  I never have pie weights around (having never purchased any), but I do always have some sort of small hardware on hand.  Here I used lag bolts in place of pie weights.

Bake at 375oF (190oC) for about 20 minutes.  Remove the weights and foil and bake another 5-10 minutes, until golden.


pjamestx (author)2009-09-08

Instead of the fold-and-transfer method, since you're already rolling it out between two sheets of cling wrap, just remove the top one, you can flip your pie pan upside down and transfer the crust that way. I use a glass pie dish so that does make it a bit simpler.

scoochmaroo (author)pjamestx2009-09-08


matthewabel (author)2009-08-21

Is there a weight we could get on the flour? 2-1/2 cups enters the realm I'd rather weigh. But I have cup-measured chillin' in the fridge right now. Though, I had to measure the flour with a 1/2 cup measure and I'm not sure if I put in the final 1/2 cup...

scoochmaroo (author)matthewabel2009-09-08

Good point. Check out How to Measure Flour, where I've included weight now as well as volume.

mdeloor (author)2017-09-21

Any idea of how this would taste using one of the new & nifty flavored Vodkas, instead of the plain stuff?? I picked up a Pineapple Vodka & a Berry Vodka on my last cruise to Alaska. Never was a Vodka fan until these.

I've used the "vinegar" recipe most of my life, and it's been awesome, but I'm always willing to try something new!

jmoy3 (author)2017-09-21

The vodka adds extra liquid to make the dough easier to work with and the alcohol does not form gluten in the dough making it harder to overwork dough. If you want to substitute butter for the shortening, remember butter is upto 20% water. so you may need more butter and less water. Resting dough lets the flout fully absorb the liquid and the gluten created will loosen up and make dough easier to roll out without springing back

pieman12 (author)2009-12-24

im 13 is the vodka necesary??????

msdrpepper (author)pieman122015-11-10

Vinegar is good - I've used that a lot since I was a kid!!

shesparticular (author)pieman122010-08-21

Some crusts use vinegar - also evaporates faster than water so it gives a similar result.

beehard44 (author)pieman122010-08-20

not necessary at all, try using vanilla or another flavoring.

Jojo Realz (author)2012-10-04

Hey scoochmaroo can I use anything else instead of vodka???

scoochmaroo (author)Jojo Realz2012-10-04

White vinegar is a good substitute!

msdrpepper (author)scoochmaroo2015-11-10

That's what I was gonna suggest and I use Natural Apple Cider Vinegar (NACV) - vinegar based has been my go-to favorite crust for years. It does the same as what you describe vodka doing - evaporating at baking, so it doesn't leave a vinegar smell behind. I didn't grow up with vodka in the house, so I am learning about it (just bought some recently to use to make vanilla.).

TheMacyC (author)2013-02-24

Any substitutes for the vegetable shortening?

SD456 (author)2012-12-28

This recipe looks really good to me. Although, I have some questions;

Can I leave out the vodka and the vegetable shortening ?
I don't have these two ingredients at home. :(

bFusion (author)2009-12-07

You may not need to use all the liquid. It has really varied for me. Some days I've needed all of it, other days I only needed half and it turned my dough into a soupy mess. I suggest mixing the water and vodka together and incorporating it in small splashes until it reaches the consistency you're looking for.

tabi (author)bFusion2011-09-15

My mother´s (and grandmother´s recipe) asks for "as much water as it would take" depends on the weather, humidity altitude... a myriad of factors... and above all DO NOT overwork! treat it gently... cold hands, cold kitchen, all that helps....

Thank you scoochmaroo for the idea of using alcohol, it is MY new recipe hehehe

Casperismyname (author)2011-01-30

This may have been mentioned before in the comments, but meh, I live in Australia and was wondering if you maybe had a substitute for crisco shortening. I'm pretty sure that you can't get it here. I love you recipes but can't make them because they're missing the shortening. You are pure awesomeness Scooch, Keep rocking and everyone will listen.

tabi (author)Casperismyname2011-09-15

Crisco is vegetable shortening, I live in Mexico and here we use Inca, which is our national brand.
Vegetable shortening is a white soft substance... much like butter (which I prefer as it melts different in your mouth)
Hope this helps---

I would suggest either going all butter or substituting the Crisco with lard. Stay away from Copha, I think. It would change the flavor profile and mouthfeel!

HamenChips (author)2011-05-26

You mean that the Vodka will be substituted by cold water with the same quantity, I don't understand English sometimes.

Booyaka3 (author)2009-10-05

I'm a Muslim and Alcohol is not allowed, so any substitutes??

SageMinto (author)Booyaka32011-02-20

Vinegar is a good substitute.

Zem (author)2009-08-20

I'll definitely try this next time I want pie =D Though I'll have to follow Andi's advice and use water seeing as I'm underage.... (Stupid laws, this is why I want to go to Europe.)

Eric95 (author)Zem2010-07-10

Lol, we have just as many age restrictions over here. It's just a stupid myth...

b1russell (author)2010-03-12

Ak!  Does it have to be plastic wrap?!?  I don't use it; something about a petroleum product . . . My mother always rolls out pie crust between pieces of waxed paper.  But I've tried her recipe, and I just can't make it edible.  So, when I try this, do I have to buy plastic, or can I substitute waxed paper?

scoochmaroo (author)b1russell2010-03-12

Waxed paper is fine :D

RynTheTyn (author)2009-09-07

The secret to flaky pie crust isn't in the liquid, it's in keeping the fat from melting as you're working with the dough. I'm sure this is an excellent pie crust, but I thought I'd let people know that no matter what liquid you use, if you overwork the dough so that the fat melts before it goes in the oven, you're still going to end up with a hard crust.

LordOlimar (author)2009-08-27

I used this recipe a couple weeks ago and it was amazing!!! Thanks for sharing!

AndiEnns (author)2009-06-14

For underagers, like myself, substituting water for vodka should do the trick.

kenexinator (author)2009-06-08

I guess so to, it wouldn't really be so bad if you were eating pastre with a "sprinkle" of vodlka.

ReCreate (author)2009-05-17

Now theres a problem.

ReCreate (author)2009-05-17

Ok,It does,Good

greenmia (author)2009-05-06

OOo... looks yummy. Too bad I'm underage.

ReCreate (author)greenmia2009-05-08

If you eat a pie with crust made with vodka,Its ok,I heard that they Put Wine In...Erm...Stake,and some other meats,And besides,It "should" all evaporate away.

greenmia (author)ReCreate2009-05-11

Hehe. I'm a vegetarian :) It's not that I mind cooking alcohol in a pie crust, but I'm not sure my parents would feel the same way. ;)

ReCreate (author)greenmia2009-05-11

Well,Like i said,It "should" All evaporate away.

mg0930mg (author)2009-05-11

Hmmm... Is there like alchol, to where it's bad for people underage? Anyway, good job!

grizzman (author)2009-05-08

seems like a lot of extra work for a pie crust. the secret to flaky crusts is not overworking the dough. a crust should only have about a 1/4 cup of water in it total. that's what you used plus the vodka.

scoochmaroo (author)grizzman2009-05-11

It literally takes about 5 minutes to make it this way (shoot, I should have named it 5-minute pie crust. . . .) The extra liquid means it sticks together so well there's absolutely no kneading involved, meaning no overworking, and no extra flouring either. Plus the food processor makes quick work of it, and I find it fun!

luvit (author)2009-05-08

# ready made pie crust or crust of your choice! # 3 egg yolks # 1 cup of sugar # 6 tbsp Hershey's cocoa powder # 4 tbsp room temperature butter # 1/3 cup AP flour # 1/4 tsp salt # 2 cups milk (we use 2%, my Gran used whole) # 1 tsp vanilla extract choco cream pie! :p

ecopure (author)2009-05-06

I have been making this crust since I saw the recipe on Americas Test Kitchen and it is the best pie crust out there. Nice instructable.

scoochmaroo (author)ecopure2009-05-06

Thanks! Just about everyone I know uses this now. I know it's all over the internet, and I felt it deserved it's proper place here as well.

SinAmos (author)2009-05-06

I'll put this on my list.;)

mirandroid (author)SinAmos2009-05-06

Trying this next weekend, as the boyfriend has demanded pumpkin pie. Thanks!

About This Instructable




Bio: Former Living & Food editor here at Instructables, now running! Follow me @sousvidely
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